Disability Justice

How our communities can move beyond access to wholeness by Mia Mingus

An excerpt:

“Disability justice has the power to not only challenge our thinking about access but to fundamentally change the way we understand organizing and how we fight for social change.

It has the power to bring our bodies back into our conversations. What do we do with bodies that have limitations, that are different (no matter how much we want to change them)? How do we acknowledge that all bodies are different, while also not ignoring the very real ways that certain bodies are labeled and treated as “disabled?”

Disability justice activists are engaged in building an understanding of disability that is more complex, whole and interconnected than what we have previously found. We are disabled people who are people of color; women, genderqueer and transgender; poor and working class; youth; immigrants; lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer; and more.

We are pushing for an understanding of how ableism affects all of our movements for justice. We are drawing connections between ableism and other systems of oppression and violent institutions. We are pushing for a more nuanced and fierce interrogation of the medical industrial complex and understandings of health, wellness and healing that aren’t rooted in ableist notions of bodies and what is considered “normal.””

10 Principles of Disability Justice by Sins Invalid

  • INTERSECTIONALITY “We do not live single issue lives” –Audre Lorde.  Ableism, coupled with white supremacy, supported by capitalism, underscored by heteropatriarchy, has rendered the vast majority of the world “invalid.”

  • LEADERSHIP OF THOSE MOST IMPACTED  “We are led by those who most know these systems.” –Aurora Levins Morales
  • ANTI-CAPITALIST POLITIC In an economy that sees land and humans as components of profit, we are anti-capitalist by the nature of having non-conforming body/minds.
  • COMMITMENT TO CROSS-MOVEMENT ORGANIZING Shifting how social justice movements understand disability and contextualize ableism, disability justice lends itself to politics of alliance.
  • RECOGNIZING WHOLENESS People have inherent worth outside of commodity relations and capitalist notions of productivity. Each person is full of history and life experience.
  • SUSTAINABILITY We pace ourselves, individually and collectively, to be sustained long term. Our embodied experiences guide us toward ongoing justice and liberation.
  • COMMITMENT TO CROSS-DISABILITY SOLIDARITY We honor the insights and participation of all of our community members, knowing that isolation undermines collective liberation.
  • INTERDEPENDENCE We meet each others’ needs as we build toward liberation, knowing that state solutions inevitably extend into further control over lives.
  • COLLECTIVE ACCESS As brown, black and queer-bodied disabled people we bring flexibility and creative nuance that go beyond able-bodied/minded normativity, to be in community with each other.
  • COLLECTIVE LIBERATION No body or mind can be left behind – only mobbing together can we accomplish the revolution we require.

Six Ways of Looking at Crip Time by Ellen Samuels

An excerpt:

“When disabled folks talk about crip time, sometimes we just mean that we’re late all the time—maybe because we need more sleep than nondisabled people, maybe because the accessible gate in the train station was locked. But other times, when we talk about crip time, we mean something more beautiful and forgiving. We mean, as my friend Margaret Price explains, we live our lives with a “flexible approach to normative time frames” like work schedules, deadlines, or even just waking and sleeping. My friend Alison Kafer says that “rather than bend disabled bodies and minds to meet the clock, crip time bends the clock to meet disabled bodies and minds.” I have embraced this beautiful notion for many years, living within the embrace of a crip time that lets me define my own “normal.”

And yet recently I have found myself thinking about the less appealing aspects of crip time, that are harder to see as liberatory, more challenging to find a way to celebrate. Now in my forties, as I reflect on my life, these other ways of looking at crip time have been pressing deeply, leaving their mark.”

Cripping The Resistance: No Revolution Without Us by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

An excerpt:

“Sometimes during the fascism/ Covid/ racism/ ableism quadruple pandemics  it’s hard for me to think about what my goals are because I’m frozen in fear. But when I stop and can feel into my core, my primary goal as a disabled queer person of color is to survive, and to work to keep my disabled kin and communities alive. “To exist is to resist” is a saying many of us say- all the ways we survive a world that wants to kill us as disabled people is resistance

But I want more than just survival. I want to transform this  world so that it is not  run by a death cult that wants to murder the land and most of us. I want to defeat fascism and racist ableism and create a world where care, access, pleasure, and human creativity get to flourish, where everyone has enough and no one has 50 billion dollars, and none of us live under the constant fear of being murdered by cops and doctors. And I want to do so as spoons allow, joyfully, creatively, alone sometimes and with crip kin and allies at other times.

One of the foundational principles of disability justice is that nothing has to be the way it is. And there is no law saying that protests always have to be thousands of people in the streets chanting.

I believe we need to keep using our disabled creativity to crip the resistance. To keep creating crip strategies to fight to win.”